September 22, 2021

A Design Manifesto

A Design Manifesto

This Manifesto is the conclusion of almost twenty years of work and hustle. It is the set of rules I use in my daily practice that allows me to decide in which projects I’ll get involved in.

They are not, by any mean, definitives. I expect to continue my journey and adopt newer lessons that, hopefully, will help me to evolve these principles.

If you’re just starting, I hope you find this Manifesto helpful. I decided to publish it so you can adopt these principles, or use them as a template to write your own.

I believe that a good professional is someone who embrace the idea of following a code of ethics and expressing it into a Manifesto is a great way to start.

Principle Nº1

Design is an intellectual profession and that’s why it matters.

The Genesis of any design work lies from the spark of an idea. As designers we have the talent to visualize in our mind the whole process that is needed to materialize anything.
Dieter Rams well said that “Good design is thorough down to the last detail.” and “the details are not the details, they make the design” (Charles Eames). Admitting that the intellectual side of what we do is real and crucial, it is the first step for a good professional practice.

Principle Nº2

Design has to be human, honest and clever.

This is the only way to achieve some kind of greatness in this industry. Before being designers we are all humans, therefore we should design things that speak a common language, a human language. Our users deserve honest designers who can create products/services that can help them fulfill any specific task without making them feel inferiors or wasting their time.

Principle Nº3

Design’s role is to care about people, the messages and ideas.

As humans we all have the responsibility to care about each other, but, as designers, we also have to care about the legacy of the times that we’re living. We are responsible for the things that we put in the world. We should care and we should be careful when choosing which message or ideal we’ll stand by. A good message can lead us into great concepts or ideas that are powerful enough to reshape societies. A designer should take this responsibility seriously in order to avoid bad practice.

Principle Nº4

A good designer must fulfill their creative hunger and aim high. No matter the cost.

To define creativity in a way that is meaningful is almost impossible, however, when we know that something is not good enough, not creative enough, we feel it in our bones. We have to trust our gut, we have to challenge ourselves to avoid the recipes we know can get the job done and try to push our limits. The goal is to get better by working and if we keep it human, honest and clever the world will thank us.

Principle Nº5

A good designer knows their value and how to sell it.

We all know that the work we do may appeal as something that is easy to achieve, but that doesn’t mean that its value is deprecated. Good Design is Good Business. We all need to learn how to charge our clients fairly and that’s not necessarily cheap.

Principle Nº6

A good designer does not design useless or banal things.

We’re living in a “all you can eat” society that is basically designed to consume in a frenetic way. Accepting it like something normal is a mistake that alters the universal balance.
To correct this, we have to make the first move by learning to say “NO” to any project that produce an outcome that is not essential for the society. We don’t need more. We need less, but better.

Principle Nº7

A good designer knows that the audience is not dumb.

The most common mistake we can made as a designers is to assume that people is stupid or they don’t want to be challenged.
If you want to make work that have a real impact, the first step is to have a real respect for your users.

Principle Nº8

Designers must help, respect and acknowledge other designers.

We are all here thanks to the effort of colleagues that helped to shape our concepts and tools. We have to acknowledge the legacy of the ones who came before us and respect those who harmed the profession for teaching us the difference between right and wrong.

Principle Nº9

Hard work is key. Talent is not enough.

The best designers know that talent is not reliable. It all came down to the same old cliché: 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Go to work, do your best, apologize for any mistake and move on.

And finally, Principle Nº10

Good design is ethically correct and cause no harm.

Our profession does not have anything that resembles the Hippocratic Oath. I believe that’s the cause of many of the design crimes that the humanity has witnessed.
If our purpose is to help people to achieve greatness without causing them any harm, then we have to enhance our practice by caring about professional ethics and the wellbeing of everything we do.